Louis V of France

Louis V of France

Ask a question about 'Louis V of France'
Start a new discussion about 'Louis V of France'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
Louis V called the Indolent or the Sluggard (from French Louis le Fainéant, meaning "Louis The Lazy"), was the King of Western Francia from 986 until his early death. The son of King Lothair
Lothair of France
Lothair , sometimes called Lothair IV, was the Carolingian king of West Francia , son of Louis IV and Gerberga of Saxony.-Regency:...

 and his wife Emma
Emma of Italy
Emma was the daughter of Lothair II of Italy and Adelaide of Italy , who would later become Holy Roman Empress...

, a daughter of Lothair II of Italy
Lothair II of Italy
Lothair II , often Lothair of Arles, was the King of Italy from 948 to his death. He was of the noble Frankish lineage of the Bosonids, descended from Boso the Elder...

, he was the last Carolingian
The Carolingian dynasty was a Frankish noble family with origins in the Arnulfing and Pippinid clans of the 7th century AD. The name "Carolingian", Medieval Latin karolingi, an altered form of an unattested Old High German *karling, kerling The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the...


Louis was crowned in June of 979 but did not actually assume power until Lothair's death in 986. Louis V was the last Carolingian
The Carolingian dynasty was a Frankish noble family with origins in the Arnulfing and Pippinid clans of the 7th century AD. The name "Carolingian", Medieval Latin karolingi, an altered form of an unattested Old High German *karling, kerling The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the...

 King of Western Francia and reigned in Laon
Laon is the capital city of the Aisne department in Picardy in northern France.-History:The hilly district of Laon, which rises a hundred metres above the otherwise flat Picardy plain, has always held strategic importance...

 from 2 March 986 until his own death, at the age of 20, in 987. It may be because he reigned for only one year that medieval biographers awarded him the title qui nihil fecit – "who did nothing".

He married Adelaide of Anjou
Adelaide of Anjou
Adelaide , called the White, was the daughter of Fulk II of Anjou and Gerberga. She was therefore the sister of Geoffrey Greymantle. She was married five times to some of France's most important noblemen....

 in 982 in Brioude
Brioude is a commune in the Haute-Loire department in the Auvergne region in south-central France. It lies on the banks of the River Allier, a tributary of the Loire.-History:...

, where they were immediately crowned King and Queen of Aquitaine. The couple was mismatched—Louis was fifteen years old and Adelaide was thirty-three and on her third marriage—and they had no children together. She soon divorced him and fled his house in 984 to Arles
Arles is a city and commune in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence....


He inherited a battle between his father's line of elected kings, which had been interrupted twice by the Robertian kings
Capetian dynasty
The Capetian dynasty , also known as the House of France, is the largest and oldest European royal house, consisting of the descendants of King Hugh Capet of France in the male line. Hugh Capet himself was a cognatic descendant of the Carolingians and the Merovingians, earlier rulers of France...

, and the house of the Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 Otto I. As defender of Rome, Otto had the power to name the clergy in Carolingian territory, and the clergy he had named were not supporting the Carolingians.

One particular foe was Adalberon, archbishop of Reims
Adalberon, Archbishop of Reims
Adalberon was the archbishop of Reims, chancellor of Kings Lothair and Louis V of France.Upon the death of Louis V, in 987, Adalberon and Gerbert of Aurillac addressed the electoral assembly at Senlis in favour of Hugh Capet, to replace the Carolingian monarch. Adalberon pleaded:Capet was elected...

 whom Otto I had elevated to the powerful archbishopric of Reims. During Lothair's time, Adalberon had tried to negotiate an alliance between the two houses; but the deal had gone bad, and Lothair had tried him for treason in 986. Lothair died at around the same time. Louis V inherited the throne; Lothair's widow, Emma, married a descendant of Otto I; and Louis V received Adalberon again.

Louis died in late May of 987, either accidentally or of poisoning by his mother; at the time of his death, he was again trying Adalberon for treason. He left no legitimate heirs, so his uncle Charles, Duke of Lower Lorraine
Charles, Duke of Lower Lorraine
Charles of Lorraine was the son of Louis IV of France and Gerberga of Saxony and younger brother of King Lothair. He was a sixth generation descendant of Charlemagne...

, was advanced as the hereditary successor to the throne. But the clergy, including both Adalberon and Gerbert (who later became Pope Sylvester II), argued eloquently for Hugh Capet
Hugh Capet of France
Hugh Capet , called in contemporary sources "Hugh the Great" , was the first King of France of the eponymous Capetian dynasty from his election to succeed the Carolingian Louis V in 987 until his death.-Descent and inheritance:...

, who was not only of royal blood but had proven himself through his actions and his military might. Capet was elected to the Frankish throne and Adalberon crowned him, all within two months of Louis V's death. Thus the Carolingian dynasty ended and the Capetian began.



  • Gwatkin, H.M., Whitney, J.P. (ed) et al. The Cambridge Medieval History: Volume III. Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    , 1926.